Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Tagged Authors Guild

By Far The Biggest Issue

STATUS: It gently snowed all day—which made Anita and I feel quite cozy here at the office.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? BLUE SKIES by Tom Waits

In the new Macmillan contract is clause 6. (b) Copyright on Derivative Works. To state bluntly, this clause gives the Publisher the right to create “derivative works” based on the work they are buying from the author. And to add insult to injury, the publisher owns the copyright to any of these “new works.”

Eyebrow raise.

Yes, it is as bad as what you are thinking it means.

First, this is actually in direct contradiction to US copyright law and can’t be legally enforce but hey, what do I know.

Second, no way an author can sign a contract without amending or deleting this clause although I know some poor soul is going it alone and will end up doing just that.

For goodness sake, at the very least, get in touch with the Authors Guild before doing anything so detrimental to your intellectual property rights.

More Tom Waits music on iLike

Wiley (cont.) And Tidbits

STATUS: Is it Wednesday already?

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LONDON CALLING by Clash

Okay, my wifi at home has gone kaput. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to blog while still at the office so then I’ll pop online via the laptop at home. Kind of difficult when it’s not working. Hopefully that will get taken care of tomorrow.

So many little tidbits to share. Most of them funny and it’s not even Friday yet.

Authors Guild and Wiley continue… Lots of people didn’t agree with the AG stance on Google but I’m still quite glad they are out there being a watch dog for authors.

In the best headline I’ve seen recently:
Cops bust woman, 74, for pouring mayo in book drop

All I can say is there must not be a lot going on in Boise, Idaho. Still, I’m dying to know the motive for this condiment crime spree. (Never imagined those three words would appear in the same sentence together.)

And best for last. You know publishing has hit mainstream when The Onion jumps in the mix. I just laughed and laughed. (It’s TWILIGHT but with Minotaurs!).


Wiley Responds and Friday Funnies

STATUS: Where has the morning gone? Eek.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? HEY GOOD LOOKIN’ by Hank Williams

Today Wiley issued a press release asserting the Authors Guild is in error.

Any Bloomberg authors want to weigh in anonymously and comment, feel free.

And to kick off the weekend, the Bronte Sisters Power Dolls (courtesy of my client Laurence)! Bless youtube. Where would I be without them? Enjoy!


Publishers Behaving Badly

STATUS: All my post-BEA stuff is done! Yes.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? FOREVER YOUNG by Alphaville

After my blog tirade two years ago when Simon & Schuster didn’t play nice in the sandbox (by deleting the crucial last four lines of their Out of Print clause without telling anyone), you know how strongly I feel about publishers behaving badly.

Sounds like John Wiley & Sons might be doing similar if the Authors Guild strong warning is anything to judge by.

I do not have any authors impacted by the sale of Bloomberg Press to Wiley so I have not seen this letter. And for the record, I have no personal take or stake on the situation but for general purposes, I like to pass on warnings when they occur so they reach as many readers as possible.

If you’re impacted by this, you might want to touch base with the folks at the AG.


Authors Guild on RH’s Rights Grab, Q&A continued

STATUS: It’s obvious that I need to rule the world. I couldn’t BELIEVE that the judges dismissed FACE from the Sing-Off. Are they nuts? Not to disparage the other performers but FACE is doing something different with a cappella. Surely an audience might like to see more of what they can do. Now it’s just the same old same old for the remaining groups with the exception of Nota (who were outstanding). Go and buy FACE’s new album Momentum anyway. Take that Sing-off.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? COLORADO CHRISTMAS by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

I’m getting an early start to my blog or I’m just going to get buried. I was very happy to see the Author Guild speak out. In a message to members, they basically rejected RH’s argument that its older contracts that grant rights to publish “in book form” or “in all editions” is a grant of electronic rights.

RH politely disagreed with their stance. Surprise I know. Put on your boxing gloves. Here we go.

But back to Q&A.

Anonymous asked:
Ask them – are mid-list authors dead in the water? What do you expect from mid-list to say yes to future projects?

I don’t believe that midlist authors are dead in the water but it also depends on where they are in the midlist. There are different levels—the consistently-selling midlister versus the midlister who is now having declining sales for each subsequent project.

If the author is a solid seller, publishers are still buying new projects—however, they may be offering less money than they have in the past or they are sticking with the same terms as previous contract. There’s not a lot of negotiating leverage for the midlist author.

In order to say yes to a future project from a midlist author (looking to change representation), I would have to believe that the new project or proposal is strong enough to bump the sales numbers or will take the author in a new, stronger direction from which the author can build.

Anonymous asked:
I was wondering if you have ever fallen in love with a manuscript and then never found a home for it?
Sadly yes. It always amazes me when I’m not able to sell a project. There’s obviously something wrong with the editors. Grin.

Rebecca Knight asked:
Hmmmm. My question for an editor would have to be what direction they think e-book pricing and the royalty structure is going to go in the next few years.
Actually, individual editors have no idea. All changes to eBook pricing and royalty structures are set by corporate policy. In fact, in negotiations, they have to toe the party line.

From my perspective? I think eBook pricing and royalty structure is going to be a huge battle. Publishers are seeing squeezed profit margins and they are clearly on notice about how third parties such as Amazon are controlling the perception of what pricing should be for eBooks (with their $9.99 price point or lower).

On Mike Shatzkin’s blog, he speculated that the publishers’ decision to delay the e-book versions of some major upcoming titles isn’t “a battle to rescue hardcover books from price perception issues caused by inexpensive ebooks” so much as it is about “wresting control of their ebook destinies back from Amazon.” I don’t disagree. His insights are worth reading.

Because of fear, publishers are all jumping on board the 25% of net bandwagon because they have no clear idea of price points and discounts that would be needed to stay with a 15% or 25% of retail model.

Who loses out the most right now? Authors. Unless they contract directly with eBook providers such as Amazon or Rosetta Books (see the stories on Stephen Covey’s deal with Rosetta and the Pat Conroy deal with Open Road). However, that’s probably only profitable (right now) for clearly established authors who have a backlist and control of those eRights. A debut author is not going to be in the same position and if that debut wants a traditional print publisher on board as well, then they will have to acquiesce to the electronic royalty structure being offered.

Agents aren’t stupid. We know that this 25% of net crap is not good now and it’s not going to be good 5 to 10 years from now and we might be stuck. (Just as the 7.5% trade pb royalty rate hasn’t change in 20 years although the publishing model for trade books has shifted significantly). If we have leverage, auction situation, we get more. When that’s not available, what is the likelihood of that debut author or midlister walking away from a traditional book deal over eRoyalties when the current percentage of sales done electronically is not even 1% of the total book sales overall? And yes, I know this is going to change drastically over the next 5 years but the agreements being done right now are creating the “standard.” However much we disagree with them and warn authors that it’s not to their advantage.

May you live in interesting times. Rather sounds like a curse right now.


You’ve Got Google Questions? Authors Guild Has Got Answers.

STATUS: Google on my mind.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I DON’T WANNA TALK ABOUT IT by Indigo Girls

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve spent the last 2 days thoroughly reading the 140-page Google Book Settlement. Yes I’ve talked to my attorney about it. Yes, I’ve discussed it with other agents. Yes, I have even talked with the Authors Guild General Counsel about it. But despite those many wonderful and revealing conversations, nothing beats a thorough understanding that comes from actually reading the settlement. For me, I felt like I needed all the pieces in place before creating my own Google letter that went out to clients today.

And you thought I was purposely avoiding my slush pile and email queries these past couple of weeks!

If you’ve been following this story, you’ll know that the Authors Guild was a named Plaintiff in the initial suit back in 2005 when the copyright infringement first began. And they have continued to be active in how this settlement will unfold and the creation of a new entity called the Book Registry.

In other words, they’ve been a strong advocate for authors’ rights in this matter.

And they are making available many valuable resources regarding the suit and the upcoming settlement and what you need to know about it on their website, for free, even for non-members.

That’s a heck of a public service. If you’ve got Google questions, chances are you can find the answers.

Hum… maybe you should think of joining the Authors Guild if you aren’t already a member. With a $90 annual fee, I’d say that’s money well spent.

And if you haven’t looked at the Google Book Settlement site, you might want to take a peek. It also has an informative FAQ page there.

If you are an author with in print or out of print books, the AG recommends that you do opt in for this settlement and claim ALL your books—even foreign editions. You can always change your mind later about allowing or not allowing display rights or even if you want to remove a book forever from being included in the Book Registry.

If you do nothing, you are automatically included and bound by the settlement and you won’t have a say in how your books are handled because you must claim them through this formal process to have control of how the content is handled via the Book Registry.

You can opt out of the settlement but AG only recommends that if you want the fun of suing Google yourself. Better have deep pockets is all I’m saying…

So find out what you need, get the answers to your Qs, so you can decide if you want to opt in.

ps. If there is any part of the settlement that you plan to read, I’d recommend Attachment A: Author-Publisher Procedures.


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